Discovery Institute, King Day, & Creationism

Warped, deranged, and bizarre are some of the printable words that come to mind upon reading the newest from the Discoveroids, written by David Klinghoffer. He and they are described in the Cast of Characters section of our Intro page.

The thing is titled On MLK Day, Remember that Intelligent Design Is a Civil Rights Issue. Whatever you may think of the merits of David’s article, you have to give him public relations credit for posting it on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Meet Cecil R. Phillips, a retired engineer in Louisiana who fell afoul of his local chapter of AU [Americans United for the Separation of Church and State] and found himself summarily barred from future meetings, his membership in AU rescinded and membership fee returned. What did he do to merit this treatment?

The suspense will be brief, dear reader, because David now tells us what Cecil did to cause his shunning:

The trouble started at a chapter meeting back in October, when the subject of evolution came up and Phillips voiced his doubts about the standard Darwinian story. He has read up on intelligent design and finds Michael Behe’s argument from irreducible complexity to be particularly provocative and convincing. By his own account, he’s not a particularly religious person. The scientific ideas are what interest him.

It was the science that interested him. BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Let’s read on:

This was evidently too much for somebody, identity unknown, who was present at the meeting. A couple of months later Phillips received a letter from AU headquarters in Washington, DC … . The letter informed Phillips that AU’s mission “includes protecting public school students from the advancement of religious ideas as science in the classroom.” It charged him with promoting “intelligent design creationism,” in violation of that mission, and disinvited from attending future meeting [sic] as this would have:

[Klinghoffer purports to quote from that letter:] a counterproductive effect on the group’s ability to conduct business in an atmosphere of openness and comfort. Therefore, your presence is no longer welcome at our meetings, and your membership in our organization has been rescinded.

Okay, a creationist deemed disruptive was tossed out of a private organization. So what? Ah, but it’s not that simple. David explains:

Phillips sounds like a very mild-mannered guy. Soft-spoken, thoughtful and articulate. Hardly threatening, or so you would think.

As Klinghoffer describes him, Cecil Phillips is the very soul of propriety. He could be another Coppedge. Klinghoffer thinks so too. He says:

This is really shameful, and telling. As we were reminded in the final and likewise shameful resolution of the David Coppedge matter last week, evolution is a civil-rights issue as much as it is a scientific one. Coppedge’s right to dissent from Darwinian orthodoxy was crushed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the judge in the case accepted NASA’s slickly constructed defense, rubber-stamped it, denying him the justice of what should have been total vindication.

[* Groan *] Coppedge continues to have the right to dissent from Darwinian evolution. He still runs his creationist blog. He’s free to make speeches. He has the same freedom that Klinghoffer or any other creationist enjoys. What he didn’t have — according to the judge who heard all the evidence — is the freedom to annoy his co-workers about personal issues that weren’t job-related, nor did he have the right to keep his job in the face of a huge layoff caused by funding cuts when his skills weren’t what his employer needed.

Klinghoffer’s next paragraph is so thick with it that we’ll have to slip our red-colored comments into brackets as it goes along:

Coppedge and his attorney [desperately tried to] cast the case in terms of religious-viewpoint discrimination. That was because JPL, like Americans United, can’t make the proper distinction between intelligent design and religion [or maybe they can, and did]. The government-funded lab demoted and then terminated Coppedge for advocating his scientific views and for protesting when his rights were trampled on [or so Coppedge claimed, but JPL presented evidence to the contrary, which the judge found credible].

That was fun. Okay, moving along:

For every Cecil Phillips, for every David Coppedge, there are countless other people who share their scientific doubts about Darwin, their openness to seeing evidence of design in nature, but who keep their views to themselves in a strategy of self-defense. They are teachers, professors, students, and other thoughtful open-minded citizens, who can’t exercise their right to advocate a particular scientific view. They reasonably fear censorship and bullying.

Censorship and bullying? Let’s think about this. Science-deniers certainly have a right to their own private opinions. They can — and do — teach their views in their homes and churches, in bible colleges, in private creation museums, and on the internet. In a secular school setting, however, no one has the right to teach whatever may be sloshing around in his mind. Public school teachers are required to teach the state curriculum, and to avoid promoting religion. The Discoveroids call that “censorship.”

As for bullying — by which we assume Klinghoffer means ridicule — what other reaction is appropriate for, say, a moon-landing denier? Or a flat-Earther? Or an astrologist? Or a creationist? Sane people have rights too, and laughing at fools is one of those rights.

Here’s Klinghoffer’s final paragraph, as he tries to wrap it all up in the trappings of civil rights:

When folks like the National Center for Science Education tell you there’s “no controversy,” “no debate” about Darwinian evolution, that’s true only insofar as the controversy and the debate are deliberately suppressed through intimidation. Civil-liberties organizations like AU and the ACLU ought to be in the thick of the fight to protect free-expression rights for Darwin doubters. Instead, they stand firmly with the censors and the bullies.

Our response is this: Hey, David — if you’re tired of sitting in the back of the intellectual bus, bear in mind that you chose that seat for yourself. There’s nothing keeping you there except you. You can get up and join the rest of us whenever you like. You can even make a lot of money doing it. If you were to write Confessions of a Former Creationist, you’d probably make more money from that than the Discoveroids will pay you in a lifetime. Somebody’s going to write that book. It may as well be you.

So there you are, dear reader. Such are the thoughts of the Discoveroids. And to the rest of you we say: Happy King day!

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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11 responses to “Discovery Institute, King Day, & Creationism

  1. I’d comment on DI’s website that AU has just as much right to control their membership as DI does…but the comment would probably get taken down.

  2. Alex Shuffell

    This civil rights issue could be sorted if those Intelligent Design scientists actually did some science. It’s not too difficult, we’ve been doing it for centuries, I don’t know why they try to avoid it.

    I would put this suggestion to them but, for a group that is routinely suppressed, they’re quite good at suppressing opposing ideas.

  3. Eric, you can’t comment on the DI’s EN&V website, for all practical purposes. They experimented with allowing comments on a few posts, but that was a while ago and they apparently quietly terminated that experiment. The irony in their complaints of “censorship” is entirely the point here.

    I don’t trust Kernel Klink’s overview here. We’re not provided with the documentation, so that we can check his claims for ourselves. Previously, whenever I could check Klink’s claims, I found that they were wrong in substance, not merely in detail. I don’t see any reason to believe otherwise here.

    Perhaps most importantly, ID is not a civil rights issue. The DI tries to make it one, but they fail most of the time. I’ve a feeling that some of their precious few victories, namely in the state legislatures, will eventually be discarded as well. And I get the distinct impression that the DI’s funding is drying up.

  4. The whole truth

    “Sane people have rights too, and laughing at fools is one of those rights.”

    Yes.

  5. So now by his own admission Klingonbopper says Intelligent Design is a political issue and not a scientific one. Good! That’s settled.

    @Eric: but Klingleberry has a Facebook page, and I think ENV does too – unless they pulled those down after their last fiasco.

  6. Klinghoffer makes Cecil R. Phillips sound like some innocent put-upon average guy being persecuted by those evil Darwinists. In truth, Cecil has been an ID advocate (see his letter to The Advocate, a Baton Rouge, LA newspaper: http://theadvocate.com/news/opinion/3759792-123/letters-evolution-backer-disrespects-others ) and has even visited the DI in Seattle. Barbara Forrest even dedicated an article to Cecil back in September: http://lasciencecoalition.org/2012/09/27/discovery-institute-apologist-in-louisiana/

  7. Jim Thomerson

    You know, i don’t put a lot of stock in Darwin’s explanations of how inheritance works. ;-)

  8. It’s always been surprising to me that the DI never stood up for one of its very own prominent members, the eminent William Dembski, who was publicly reprimanded then fired for his religious views. Seems that they would stick up for one of their own rather than some arbitrary guy who was kicked out of a club.

  9. Then why doesn’t the Dishonesty Institute have an open comment line? Well, because they prefer to censure any incoming comments and post only favorable ones. And it’s like their little faux stories, you can choose “I like this” but the option “I don’t like this” is never offered.

  10. Doc, Cecil Phillips IS a member of the DI… see the link I posted and RogerE posted.